Friday, July 30, 2010

Back to School. Maybe.

Just a few short months ago, I was so confident in Leah's educational future. She would continue to attend the Christian private school through graduation, unless she decided at some point that she would like to try public school. Then there would be a discussion.

But it turns out the discussion is happening now. Because of the 10 kids in Leah's class, 1 is repeating kindergarten, 2 are going to public school, 2 are switching to the other campus (ours is just preK-3rd, the other is K-12), 1 may be homeschooled, and the other is a big ol' question mark since the dad lost his job recently. The leaves Leah and 2 boys as the only "for sure"s from her class.

And that is NOT a full class, my friends.

There are several options:

1. 1st grade will most likely only be offered at the other campus, which would require a MUCH longer morning and afternoon commute. Our commute is already complicated by a baby who could be napping during pick-up times.

2. We could attend the other campus, but carpool with another family.

3. Leah could attend another Christian school, which happens to be very close to the one she attended last year, so our commute would be similar.

4. We could homeschool.

Just to be clear, homeschooling is neither a foreign nor a favorite concept around our house. Aaron was basically homeschooled for a good portion of his elementary/high school education, and even *I* was homeschooled for my kindergarten year. We have many friends who homeschool and love it, including potentially Leah's best friend from class last year and neighbors across the street.

Keeping Leah at home has many positives:

1. We'd save a bundle of cash.

2. Our schedules would be waaaay more worrying about how late Adam sleeps or when he naps. Vacations could happen whenever we want. (Can you say 'Disney World in October'? Yessss.)

3. Leah is a self-motivated learner - meaning, she could basically learn in a box. Homeschooling her would be a breeze. We could probably do her classwork super fast, and she could move at her own pace.

4. I could supplement the normal 1st grade curriculum with stuff she's interested in, like Spanish. (Heaven help us all if we go that direction. Professor Brown would be horrified at the thought of my teaching ANYONE Spanish.) And of course, I COULD do this regardless of our decision.

5. This could be a good intro to homeschooling for Ben, who may actually require it, especially if he hasn't figured out the whole pooping-in-the-toilet thing by kindergarten time. I may do a preschool curriculum with him anyway, just to make sure he's ready for school in a year.

Of course, there are a few negatives as well:

1. I would be in charge of Leah's education. This might be a positive for others, but it totally overwhelms me. I like trusting someone else to make all those decisions, as long as I trust the decider.

2. Leah loves school. Last year she adored everything about school: her teacher, her classmates, learning about God, and doing the schoolwork.

3. I feel loyal towards her school, even though we've only attended one year. Lots of my friends work there or have kids there, and our nephew graduated from there.

4. Leah is a great kid to have in a classroom. From my former-teacher perspective, she is a good influence: excited about learning, but respectful of others. Her teacher last year said she was a good friend and helper to others in the class, and actually told us we couldn't take her away to homeschool when I mentioned it!

5. That self-motivated learner part? Worrisome. I'm not a super fan of skipping grades (although I have seen it work out just fine.) But the possibility of her going to college at sixteen scares the stuffing out of me.

6. Have you ever tried curriculum shopping before? Oh my word. I get stress headaches just thinking about it.

7. Oh yeah, then there's that whole "having only two kids for most of the day" part. I was kind of looking forward to that.

8. I'd probably still be going a lot of places where Leah would end up being the only kid her age, stuck with a lot of little kids. She'd get used to it, yes, and would adapt, but it would still stink.

So. I have lots of lists, but no conclusion. Aaron thinks that I might love homeschooling, but I'm not so sure. And if I DO love it, that would require a whole reconfiguration of our future as imagined by me. What a pain.

I don't really want to hear all about your decision, either! That's so unfair, I know, since I just made you listen to all this gobbledegook. But even though homeschooling/private school/ public school worked wonderfully for your family, EVERY FAMILY is different. So your experience really has no bearing on ours.
But please, feel free to tell me how you had doubts and questions, but your kid turned out intelligent and normal anyway. Tell me how kids are resilient, and one year couldn't possibly damage her entire life. Tell me to breathe. Tell me to continue encouraging her learning in any way I can, even if it becomes the focus of my own life. Tell me it's okay to let my life completely revolve around my kids. Tell me that the most important thing is what is the best option for MY KIDS, not the best for me, or the school, or everyone else's kids.

So why am I telling all of you this? Because you've probably had some concerns and issues regarding your child's education, and if you haven't yet, you will. At some point. Especially if you think you have it all figured out.


JJ and EJ said...

Phew! Lots of things to consider. Good thing you're going into it with an open mind and God on your side. He'll let you know what's up in one way or another.

Oh yeah, and I definitely fall into this category:

"and if you haven't yet, you will. At some point. Especially if you think you have it all figured out."

: ) See you sooooon!

Joanne said...

You are right Liz, every child is different, every family is different. One thing that is the same in most families is the desire for good education for each of their children.
Since (we) have totally signed up ourselves into homeschooling, my doubts included social networks for Marcus, sports opportunities, etc.
I am actually excited about the challenge of homeschooling. I have only committed a year for now. We are still open to signing both of them at the Christian school here if we saw that they would benefit from traditional classroom environment. (during my 1 year commitment)

So take a deep breath, after all, Leah is such a smart cookie.

MyGreenSide said...

Not that this is a consideration but it would totally benefit me if you did decide to home school. You are so organized, incredibly intelligent and you know everyone... you could keep me on track! Just sayin... :)

Ruth said...

have you thought about trying it a week at home? before you have to make a decision? like, this summer (it's still summer!). that might solve a lot of the "what if"s you have hanging out there. maybe your daily schedule will be perfect! and leah will love the attention! or maybe, without other students around, she'll become less motivated. maybe, maybe, maybe.

just try it a bit, and see how scary it is. also, is it possible to try it for an extended period of time? like, one semester? it sounds like you're either committing to this for life or not at all. lots of gray room in the middle to explore.

Noel said...

It seems like it comes down to the rigid transportation schedule and incremental drive time VS flexible scheduling and incremental home teaching/prep time (I say incremental since 1st graders spend quite a bit of time reading to parents in either case). Ruth's one week trial idea sounds pretty good.

Lyz said...

Joanne- Heard you were going the hs route. I wish I was as excited as you!

MyGreenSide- Let the flattery commence!:)

Ruth- If I did a week before school starts, that means deciding in, like, a week which curriculum to get, and then investing both time & money in it. If I did a semester, Leah could be through the whole first grade by then... Not the strongest arguments, but that's all I've got right now! I'm thinking a year at a time, I guess. A semester wouldn't be bad, and that would give us a chance to get plugged into the homeschool network in town. Hmmm...

Jess said...

Wow! That's quite the decision you have to make. I like Ruth's idea of a trial period. At least see how Leah would react to you as 'teacher' instead of 'mom'. definitely pros/cons to each (won't get into my personal thoughts) . Dave would make a spreadsheet and weigh it all out :) Wish you the best of luck in your decision

Noel said...

The trial doesn't have to be with a curriculumn...just some reading, writing,and arithmetic workbooks from Target. You test the hypothesis of how teaching the one and caring for the two fits into the 8:00- 3:00 window. If between prepping and teaching and pooping and feeding class is dismissed at 8:00 pm, home schooling probably won't work long term right now.

Jeannie said...

Ugh, I feel your stress. Have you considered fasting and praying?!? I'm teasing....sort of. Not really.

Lyz said...

Jess, that spreadsheet isn't a bad idea. But would that include numbers? Numbers and me, we don't get along so good.

Jeannie - Remind me of that next June.:)